Orchestre des Champs-Élysées – Collegium Vocale Gent – Philippe Herreweghe conductor – Gerhild Romberger alto – Christina Landshamer soprano – Andrè Schuen baritone – Bernhard Berchtold tenor
Elias, op. 70 Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Elijah, Mendelssohn’s last great masterpiece, is a sumptuous, colourful piece and a key example of the romantic oratorio. The composer painted the portrait of a heroic character, moving us with his exceptional realism and humanity. The work, programmed as part of the Bach Heritage Festival, is similar to Händel’s works, which were inspired by the Old Testament. Cantor’s influence is also noticeable, more specifically in the use of counterpoint in this composition. The epic choruses, which are performed by colossal choirs, and flamboyant orchestration are all very much present in Mendelssohn’s oratory. Rarely has a composer succeeded in capturing the doubt, revolt and resignation, followed by the courage to face one’s destiny so movingly, as Mendelssohn did in Elijah’s arias and ariosos. Instead of merely telling the prophet’s story, Elijah is a spiritual reflection that draws inspiration from his life and his actions.